Game play - 9
Presentation - 9.5
Story / Creativity - 8
Lifespan - 9
Escape Plan features a number of additional options to play around with if you find yourself rushing through the addictive main event. Players wanting more challenge can attempt to take on the game’s challenge mode which sees you completing each room in as little deaths as possible or under a set amount of time.
Between all the maiming and killing we generally need something to get away from that none stop action and for once place our pulsating brains on the pedestal when taking on a new game. Puzzle games have always been a very welcome distraction from the constant stream of shooters and action games, so Fun Bits Interactive’s Escape Plan was probably one of the best ways to get started.
Escape Plan follows the abrupt awakening of a little fellow called ‘Lil’. Lil who is trapped inside the dungeon-like warehouse of his captor known as ‘Bakuki’ must traverse deep into its metallic puzzles and find his slightly dim witted and overweight companion ‘Laarg’.
Once the two are finally reunited, your noir adventure begins as you traverse room after room in an attempt to be free from the conniving Baku once and for all. One of the main aspects of Escape Plan, which you will discover early on, is that death is an everyday thing for our unfortunate heroes. So much so that every time our protagonists die, the number of deaths they have endured are stamped on their round pot bellies as a reminder of what we put them through. Each puzzle room consists of a series of traps that the player must help the duo overcome by interacting with the surround environment and slowly (or quickly) guiding Lil and Laarg to the exit door on the other side. The game depends entirely on the Vita’s front and rear touch screen capabilities, which you will find are rather accurate and easy to use. By tapping the front screen you can ultimately guide your selected companion onwards through the traps in your way, and by pressing the character himself you can make him stop before falling to a likely death.
As mentioned the entire environment can be played around with in Escape Plan. An example would be the sharpened cooling fans of an engineering room that you will slowly come along to early in your adventure. If one of the characters touches this spinning fan, they are obviously going to die, so the player must instead spin the fan using their index finger in the opposite direction to slow it down. Once this is complete and the blades are angled in a way that won’t pop Lil or Laarg’s fragile bodies, they can resume on their quest.
The puzzles will eventually get trickier and more thought provoking as those spinning fans later need objects to block their path like the pushing out of block grates by press the read touch pad. Another involves Baku’s minion guards into walking into electric currents by luring them to the noise of your on screen taps. The game excels are making you feel mischievous in the ways you complete the puzzles rooms and best of all the rating system for completing these challenges on time are pretty accessible to anyone with 4 digits and a thumb.
Lil and Laarg aren’t completely useless though. Sometime during the course of the game you will come across environmental objects or set pieces in a room that Lil and Laarg can interact with to gain an upper hand on their freshly presented obstacles. Lil for instance can take a sip from coffee dispensers and begin twitching in caffeine filled joy. This comes to your advantage of course during timed bridges or fall objects as tapping Lil will propel him forward in a quick dash of speed. Another environment object that will make you chuckle is the helium canisters he can suck on to inflate himself into a floating Lil balloon. This allows players to make use of the Vita’s six axis feature and guide him through the air as he slowly ascends upwards in the room. Tapping him will of course bring an added effect as he slowly farts in a quick burst of speed and begins to slowly deflate.
Laarg is also not without his advantages, such as being able to walk through weak walls to clear path or even bum bounce with the assistance of a quick finger swipe downwards to break through wooden floor boards. All these abilities and gizmos work wonderfully through the full interface of the Vita and just show what dedication to a unique control system can do for a game such as this.
People hoping for some eye candy will be pretty surprised by the game’s rather tasty black and white visuals too. Lil and Laarg especially look great as their rubber-like skin comes to life through the Vita’s sharp OLED screen. While nothing much happens within the rooms apart from the quiet actions and experiences of your onscreen companions, it is still a rather pretty game for something akin to a simple platform puzzler.
Escape Plan has already been supported with a collection of brilliant and affordable DLC for those wanting more from the unfortunate adventures of Lil and Laarg. If you are puzzle fan wanting a silent, yet charming black and white tale of death and freedom that can be picked up and played on the go wherever you go, then this is definitely one world to escape to.